New Chinese TV series focuses on ordinary people at the workplace
‘Ideal City’
Published: Aug 17, 2021 06:13 PM
Promotional material for <em>The Ideal City</em> Photo: Courtesy of Yan Lijiao

Promotional material for The Ideal City Photo: Courtesy of Yan Lijiao

The 13th episode of office drama series The Ideal City, starring Chinese mainland actress Sun Li and actor Mark Chao from the island of Taiwan, was released on Monday, and reviews as well as viewership have continued to improve since the show about regular people struggling in the construction industry debuted on Thursday.

The 40-episode series is airing both on traditional TV stations and online platforms, including Chinese streaming giant iQIYI. The series' realistic theme and depiction of the many dilemmas people encounter at work has resonated with many viewers.

The story mainly follows Sun's character Su Xiao, a young cost engineer who has just started her career and so is still unfamiliar with the construction industry.

The storyline at the beginning of the show is one that many people working in big companies can sympathize with. 

After a mass safety issue is revealed, Su's low status at the company makes her the perfect scapegoat for her boss to use to take the blame.   

After Su hits a brick wall multiple times at the company, Chao's Xia Ming, a successful senior cost engineer at a giant construction company, offers her the chance to show her talent by jumping over to his company to become his assistant.

Different from other office dramas, The Ideal City aims to depict a real workplace by expanding its focus beyond the main characters to include supporting characters with their own interesting personalities. 

There are timid and gainful managers who fire employees like Su, wise and decisive company owners who know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, puzzled fledgling colleagues and promising competitors in the series, just the same as in real life.

"It's not just the heroine who gets off to a bad start and then fights back, every living person in the workplace keeps moving forward on their own path," one reviewer wrote on Chinese media review platform Douban.

Chinese media outlet The Paper said that the construction industry makes for a great background for a workplace narrative as it is a local industry and represents one facet of China's economic development. In addition, there is a sense of innovation and change in the drama as it follows the growth of women in the workplace as its main storyline and tells how women break the unwritten rules of a male-dominated workplace.

Pear, an architect, told the Global Times on Tuesday that if other architects watch the TV series, they are sure to see things that they have experienced themselves reflected in the drama. 

"The biggest struggle of mine seen in the series is when I had created a work that was very artistic and so fought hard to make it a reality, but the investors and construction company didn't feel the same way. I needed to spend a lot of time communicating with them and even after all that I was still unable to accomplish my dream building," Pear said.